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feeling like a bad guest...


therdogg
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I was reading the thread about whether or not one's own cooking is satisfactory. Some were commenting about how difficult it is to be guests at the homes of others, and it really hit home for me because I had a bad guest experience last night. My family was invited to the home of good friends. The menu was artichoke dip (canned artichoke hearts, mayo, sour cream nuked with bread crumbs and parmesan from a green container sprinkled on top) and crackers along with a "stir-fry." "Oh, it's so easy and good" she assured me, probably wondering when I'd start taking notes, "it's just ramen noodles, half a seasoning packet (what on earth is a seasoning packet?) frozen stir-fry veggies and frozen popcorn shrimp." Blech... it was all a soggy mush and drowned in bad soy sauce. Along with dinner was a non-alcoholic cloyingly sweet carbonated cranberry drink that was packaged in a wine bottle. I said I didn't feel well (which was true) and sort of picked. I pride myself on having no food aversions and can eat almost anything set before me. But this was just too much. Dessert was this warm custardy drink ("strawberry or coconut?" she asked, dangling two packets of powdered crapola before us). She's always dropping off cookies that she made from store-bought dough with this yucky caramelly center or guacamole made with "guacamole mix." We often have them over for yummy meals, and I don't really expect them to reciprocate- rather, I'd prefer that they didn't. It's not just the bad food; it's that she doesn't get that there is anything qualitatively different about our cooking. She thinks I spend way to much money and time on food- she wants to buy me something called "The Four Ingredient Cookbook" for Christmas. She truly thinks her Jell-o and Cool Whip desserts are as delicious as my Cake Bible genoise and thinks I am foolish to spend so much time/money on dessert. It's not that I need her to acknowledge my superiority in this area; I just don't want to have to eat her stuff anymore! I know I am sounding like a terrible, self-centered, uncharitable friend right now, but I really needed to vent.

So 'fess up. Who are the food-clueless in your life, and how do you navigate your relationship with them while still maintaining dietary integrity?

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I'm blessed with a lot of friends who are in, or have been in, the food business. Chefs, cooks, a fish monger, a rep for Dole & Bailey. The number of bad meals I've had to suffer through are few and far between & most of them have been at my sister's house (were you at my sister's house for dinner last night??). So whenever I go to my sister's house, I offer to cook.

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... how do you navigate your relationship with them while still maintaining dietary integrity?

When I can't convince them to go to a restaurant so they don't have to go to the trouble to cook, I simply have a large snack right beforehand. I enjoy their company and keep telling myself it's not so bad (or, it's just one meal-depending on just how bad it is!)

...Then we guiltily gossip on the way home. :wink:

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You should have had the left-over buttercup squash sauted with canned sardines a very good friend of mine served for lunch one day. :biggrin:

BLEAGH! That sounds disgusting! I wouldn't want to be in the same room as that montrosity!

I have to tolerate my sister's green bean casserole every Thanksgiving. I'd much prefer steamed green beans with butter, pepper and a squeeze of lemon, but majority rules... :sad:

Iris

GROWWWWWLLLLL!!

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hah. funny you bring this up.....i think i insulted my roommate the other night.

the girl can cook, i will give her that much, but because of her family, she apparently doesn't cook with salt at all. and she's a sugar fiend. she's been a line cook and sous chef, so she has cooked professionally before.

well anyways, a couple months back, when we had soem good fresh basil, she decided she would make tomato sauce from scratch. i was excited because I thought perhaps i'd get a good tomato sauce recipe out of the whole thing.

it smelled wonderful. and then i tasted it. it was sweet.

sugary and tomatoey, with a hint of basil. apparently she'd put 2 heaping teaspoons of sugar into it, and added no salt.

and the other day she was on my case for some reason saying i like things salty. (to be honest - i don't - i sprinkle through out a dish, but it's in no way overly salty, otherwise i wouldn't eat it. salt for me is to temper falvors.)

anyway - she brought up the sauce and said, when i added salt to it, it made it too salty, and that salt should be added at the table (to a pasta sauce?). Then she threw the "well i've been cookign professionally for 6 years..." thing. anyways, i flat out told her her sauce sucked, no disrespect and that it tasted like sugar and tomatoes.

i think i feel a little guilty about it, but not really. i mean it was nasty.

Edited by tryska (log)
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There is a thread here somewhere on being a good guest. (I would normally provide a link but I don't want to test the search function while "under construction".)

I have a few acquaintenances that I enjoy their company but not necessarily their cooking. I have developed a few rules:

1) If they are not interested, you can't convert or teach them. As a gracious guest, it would be rude to even try.

2) There are few things that I find truly inedible (raw fish and raw tomatoes, turnips, and a few other personal quirks). Maybe some of the packaged convenience crap is not as good as what you might make but it is rarely so bad as "inedible" or some of the more flamboyant adjectives that might be used. Think back to what you ate in college. :laugh: Or think of the starving children in *insert current shit hole here*. They probably wouldn't turn up their noses at Hamburger Helper. Get a grip. It is only a meal.

3) Being a gracious guest is more important than being a gourmand or conspicuous foodie in these situations. I tend to blank out the food and enjoy the evening for its other attributes.

4) Enjoy a good gossip about the food on the way home. "Mabel is a great gal, but her cooking is crap... Bless her heart." (Southern thing. You can hurl any insult and it is ok if you bless their heart.)

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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I eat before or after going to the house of one particular friend who cooks the most deadly-dull, bland food. And I never take her up on her offers to give me her recipe. But I do compliment her on the dinner. I have no problems with the compliments meaning any loss of integrity on my part, since it's plain good manners. What's the alternative? Losing a friend over the issue of food-preferences? I think not.

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Tryska, I have the exact opposite problem. Whenever I go home and my mother cooks for me, I find she has over-salted everything. She feeds my brother and father regularly so they all have the same taste scale. I have regularly seen them spread salted butter on bread and then sprinkle salt on that - aieeeee! Hypertension ALERT! I went home for Christmas one year and mum had made a steak-and-kidney pie. We all took a forkful and AS ONE the three of them reached for the salt cellar, and I reached for my water glass.

THAT was the precise moment I knew I had left home...

Fi

Fi Kirkpatrick

tofu fi fie pho fum

"Your avatar shoes look like Marge Simpson's hair." - therese

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There is a thread here somewhere on being a good guest. (I would normally provide a link but I don't want to test the search function while "under construction".)

I have a few acquaintenances that I enjoy their company but not necessarily their cooking. I have developed a few rules:

1) If they are not interested, you can't convert or teach them. As a gracious guest, it would be rude to even try.

2) There are few things that I find truly inedible (raw fish and raw tomatoes, turnips, and a few other personal quirks). Maybe some of the packaged convenience crap is not as good as what you might make but it is rarely so bad as "inedible" or some of the more flamboyant adjectives that might be used. Think back to what you ate in college. :laugh: Or think of the starving children in *insert current shit hole here*. They probably wouldn't turn up their noses at Hamburger Helper. Get a grip. It is only a meal.

3) Being a gracious guest is more important than being a gourmand or conspicuous foodie in these situations. I tend to blank out the food and enjoy the evening for its other attributes.

4) Enjoy a good gossip about the food on the way home. "Mabel is a great gal, but her cooking is crap... Bless her heart." (Southern thing. You can hurl any insult and it is ok if you bless their heart.)

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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I eat before or after going to the house of one particular friend who cooks the most deadly-dull, bland food. And I never take her up on her offers to give me her recipe. But I do compliment her on the dinner. I have no problems with the compliments meaning any loss of integrity on my part, since it's plain good manners. What's the alternative? Losing a friend over the issue of food-preferences? I think not.

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Tryska, I have the exact opposite problem. Whenever I go home and my mother cooks for me, I find she has over-salted everything. She feeds my brother and father regularly so they all have the same taste scale. I have regularly seen them spread salted butter on bread and then sprinkle salt on that - aieeeee! Hypertension ALERT! I went home for Christmas one year and mum had made a steak-and-kidney pie. We all took a forkful and AS ONE the three of them reached for the salt cellar, and I reached for my water glass.

THAT was the precise moment I knew I had left home...

Fi

*lol* that's scary. yeah, i'm not a big fan of the salt shaker, growing up it wasn't on the table, and imo, food should be perfectly seasoned before it hits the plate.

just as i don't understand people who only cook with salt and pepper, i don't understand those who don't cook with salt at all. balance in all things.

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*lol* that's scary.  yeah, i'm not a big fan of the salt shaker, growing up it wasn't on the table, and imo, food should be perfectly seasoned before it hits the plate.

just as i don't understand people who only cook with salt and pepper, i don't understand those who don't cook with salt at all.  balance in all things.

My mother-in-law barely uses any salt (much less herbs and spices) in her cooking, but when I first started eating meals with them the slat and pepper were never on the table.

I would always have to ask for it to eat the meat and potatoes and would fell guilt for doing so. Eventually it started showing up on the table, but not in the food - yet.

Edited by bilrus (log)

Bill Russell

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So 'fess up. Who are the food-clueless in your life, and how do you navigate your relationship with them while still maintaining dietary integrity?

1) Eat a nutritious snack beforehand

2) Drinka a martini

3) Small portions

4) Smile and say thank you

And at all times: Get over it.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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ack. it didn't happen to be boiled meat and potatoes did it, bilrus?

thankfully growing up, while there weren't shakers ont he table, they weren't necessary either.

and despite the story up top, i really am a gracious guest. i mean i didn't tell my roommate her sauce sucked when she made it..i just smiled politely, took a small serving, and grabbed the salt and pepper shakers. i just told her months after the fact.

Edited by tryska (log)
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I am just intimidating enough that friends who are not good cooks don't invite me to their homes -- and that is just fine with me.

We have one friend who insists on entertaining us in her home. I cook when we go there. I really have only one complaint about that. She tends to call me 10 days or so before the dinner and wants to talk about the menu for the evening. I always say the same thing "buy what you'd like to eat and I will cook something using those ingredients." I finally had the chance to tell her (nicely, I think) that were I having the dinner party I would first think about a menu 4 or 5 hours before guests arrive and I will not spend more time on her menu than I would on my own.

We have another friend who cannot cook at all who has invited us for dinner. I mumble, smile and say polite things about the food.

One or two others are really interested in becoming better cooks. Those, I encourage and give tips, suggestions, etc. to.

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Oh, I am grateful for the company and the hospitality, and I always compliment the food and time. I think it is poor manners to insult hospitality given, even privately to my spouse (whether hearts are blessed or not). I knew we both hated the meal (and the others we've been served) but we don't talk about it. Which was why I turned to the anonymity of egullet, mostly to complain and be rude- I guess my own character flaws have been laid bare (oops!) :laugh:

I know it's just a meal, but it's a repeated pattern (weekly), and I was wondering what others do: come up with excuses? Develop food allergies? Say please don't drop Chef Boyardee off for lunch? And the worst is when surprise courses are brought to dinner parties _I'm_ hosting and I'd feel guilty if I didn't serve it.

Oh my word, it could be much much worse... some people are MARRIED to spouses who fix Kraft dinner almost every night... perhaps I should count my blessings. :smile:

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Another good-ole Southernism is "That poor gal; that stuff wouldn't make good dog bait." I went to a 60th birthday party for a big time rancher,where there was a dish on the buffet line-and I kid you NOT-of cold,cut up hotdogs with a sort of chunky salsa. Cold,straight from the fridge, like I used to eat when I was younger. :wink:

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My thought - don't complain - be gracious

Among my friends, because I'm the trained cook, we were never invited over for meals. "Oh, but you cook so well - I would hate to think what you would think of MY cooking," they would tell me.

Well, you know what? I'd me more pleased to have my hospitality reciprocated than to constantly be relied upon to provide the good eats.

I wouldn't care if it came out of cans or boxes or mixes. It is the thought that counts and you are lucky to have friends that want your company.

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2) There are few things that I find truly inedible (raw fish and raw tomatoes, turnips, and a few other personal quirks). Maybe some of the packaged convenience crap is not as good as what you might make but it is rarely so bad as "inedible" or some of the more flamboyant adjectives that might be used. Think back to what you ate in college. :laugh:  Or think of the starving children in *insert current shit hole here*. They probably wouldn't turn up their noses at Hamburger Helper. Get a grip. It is only a meal.

3) Being a gracious guest is more important than being a gourmand or conspicuous foodie in these situations. I tend to blank out the food and enjoy the evening for its other attributes.

In the tradition in which I was raised, Judaism, hospitality is a two-fold religious obligation -- one is obliged to extend hospitality graciously as one is obliged to accept hospitality graciously. I take this very seriously.

Save for traif (non-kosher) ingredients, there is very little I won't eat. The only two foods I truly despise are eggplant and okra. It's a consistancy thing. A couple of years ago I was a guest in a friend's home for dinner on the Sabbath. At the beginning of the meal she set in front of me a big, piping hot bowl of eggplant soup. (Yes, you read that right.) I have never encountered anything quite that snotty in my life. I resolutely ate every drop in my bowl -- with great effort and pretending it was mushroom bisque, my favorite soup. My hostess promptly took my bowl away, and I was greatly relieved - until she set another bowl down in front of me. I thought I was going to cry. I managed to eat half of it before pushing it back, saying I wanted to save room for the rest of the meal.

The next time we were guests at her house -- again for the Sabbath dinner -- she again served the eggplant soup -- this time with okra in it -- and told the rest of her guests she made it especially for me, knowing how much I loved it. I can't do justice to the consistancy of this soup -- it was like chunky snot. My wife quickly changed the subject, fearing I was nearing the edge of sanity! But I ate it. I would rather be uncomfortable than cause my hostess any discomfort.

I know I'm a great cook. And I know that most people can't cook as well as I do. Maybe because the way I show people how much I care about them is by cooking for them, I love being invited to a friend's house for dinner. And if it is green been casserole, I'll eat it, and I'll probably enjoy it; because it means they like me. Bless their hearts.

Aidan

"Ess! Ess! It's a mitzvah!"

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My mother-in-law is such a dreadful cook, that I used to come home after every Thanksgiving celebration sobbing -- it's all about the food, don't ya know!! and her food was so terrible! Brown broccoli, stuffing that could double as cement...<sigh>

But then I just started making my OWN Thanksgiving dinner the follwing day -- the tears stopped.

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I only wish I were invited to eat dinner at other people's houses. My fiance is a fabulous cook and we usually do the inviting. I can only imagine that if I were in the position of eating inedible food, I would probably start laughing uncontrollably, until crying then ask if I could go take a nap. but more likely I would eat it of course super grateful that someone for once invited us for dinner.

There was a time when I was that REALLY AWFUL COOK that made food for other people. Mostly for an ex boyfriend. While visiting his parents, I decided to treat them to flour tortillas like my grandma used to make even though it had been years since I made them. I got glimpses of the trouble to come when his step mom recommended I use a glass rolling pin that you fill with water (something I had never seen before). They had a Wolf or Viking type stove with a huge griddle (also something I had never seen or used before). But I thought it would be a great improvement over the single tortilla sized comal , thinking this way I could make a few at a time. Little did I know that it would take FOREVER to heat the griddle hot enough to cook the tortillas.

I tried to cook them on the griddle but it just never got hot enough, and it was getting later and later. They were all huddled around me watching me cook tortillas, meanwhile I was trying to summon my grandma's spirit. (I swear, I was waiting for her to kick in.) Anyway, at the dinner table, they were complimenting them as I was cringing. They turned out like crackers and broke in half when folded. They were so gracious that I was beginning to feel convinced that perhaps they had never even had a tortilla. After all they were nestled in the Northeast. Maybe they really thought this is how they were supposed to be. This flimsy hope couldn't save me. I wanted to climb under the table. On the train ride back home, I mentioned that I thought the tortillas were a complete failure, to which he replied, "They really sucked" which I thought was unnecessary since I was already admitting they were terrible. I thought that was the only show of rude behavior particularly because I really was trying to cook from my heart.

Another time I was a worse REALLY AWFUL COOK. I was on this oatmeal kick while reading something like Fit for Life. I made it every morning and sometimes for dinner or maybe just as a snack. I wouldn't allow any syrup, brown sugar, raisins, cream or milk to be put into it. I was a fanatic oatmeal eater and it had to be just so: thick rolled oats boiled in water. It was almost like my new religion. Poor guy (this was the same boyfriend as above). I would've left me as well. So you can imagine the misery, everytime he came to visit. The mornings would begin with this joyless mush. It was during this time he just decided to split, at least there were no bad mannered complaints about my cooking.

I can only thank goodness I met my current man who reintroduced the glories of bacon, butter, creme, cheese, etc. . . into my life. Since he makes such delectable foods, the only time I cook now is when I make my family recipes which he knows better than to criticize if he doesn't like them

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